I found an interesting guide to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the Canadian Bar Association’s website with an interesting commentary that I always suspected to be true but have never seen in black and white.
Supreme Court of Canada’s approach to equality Section 15 does not require everyone to be treated the same way regardless of different circumstances. Showing that the government or the law is treating you differently, or showing that a law that appears to treat people in the same way affects members of a particular group differently, is just one step in showing a violation of section 15 equality rights.
You also need to show that section 15 applies to the different treatment you received. Section 15 prohibits discrimination because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability. It also prohibits discrimination on “analogous” (comparable) grounds. The Courts have said that something “analogous” is a personal characteristic that you can’t change at all, or you can’t change without great personal cost or difficulty – like sexual orientation or CITIZENSHIP.
The Supreme Court has said that the central purpose of section 15 is to promote “substantive equality” by fighting discrimination. So in addition, courts will focus on whether the law or government action is discriminatory in creating a disadvantage by perpetuating (or indefinitely continuing) prejudice or stereotyping.